Monday, December 31

PROMISES, PROMISES, PROMISES...

Greetings, dear readers! Here I am on the threshold of another year gone by and feeling quite...well...UNCERTAIN of what it might bring forth. I am not much one for New Years Resolutions because I am really lousy at keeping them. Truly. I mean REALLY lousy. It's like the minute my body "HEARS" the mutterings of diet...weight loss, etc. it goes into IMMEDIATE rebellion.

However, my hubby is insistent that we do SOMETHING, so I've signed up for eDiet (mostly because it will allow me to kick out menus and shopping lists...the part of DIETING that I detest and despise). And now comes the challenge of finding foods that a)we both like and b)that our local market carries. One accomplishment (whether or not to be proud I have not yet discerned) of 2007 was that I won the title "Food Diva" by my sisters. Truly I didn't MEAN to be a food diva, and Lord knows I am not terribly picky when it comes to the WHAT of my eating...but apparently I'm a bit more of a stickler on the "HOW". Textures are a big deal (I can not eat shrimp because of the "chewy" textures of the wretched things) and temperatures are a big deal (for example, I find I am more likely to drink my drinks in their entirety if they are REEEEEEEALLY cold...thus, I order drinks with extra ice. Yes, it may be a bit of a PAIN at the drive thru, but isn't the "customer always right" anyway???) AND then there's the aesthetic of food...it HAS to look good. It has to look PRETTY. If I learned nothing else in home ec cooking class it was that there needed to be a variety of COLOR and TEXTURES in a meal. I heartily concur. Maybe it's the artist in me...maybe I AM a food diva. All I know is that I have had near "spiritual experiences" when food is done right ...
I REFUSE, however, to make the new year all about food...and weight...and...well, my BODY. (OH MY GOSH...I watched with HORROR as I saw the previews for a
new reality show on television about "plus size women" learning to "love their bodies". Their first exercise is to look at themselves in a full length mirror in only their underwear. Yikes. Double yikes. I will be the first to admit I am unhappy with my body...however, looking at myself in a mirror in my home and looking at myself on national television are two ENTIRELY DIFFERENT things. At the tender age of 50 (THANKS TO EVERYONE for all the well wishes, by the way!) I would have hoped to have made PEACE with this body-o-mine. It DOES, after all, for the most part, function well. BUT peace or not, I am going to appreciate this body and NOT obsess about it. Really.

SOOOOOOOO, rather than make
resolutions I will never in a million years keep, how about this...how about I agree before YOU, my readers, that I will embrace the GOOD in both myself and the world, and will seek to bring Love, Light and Creativity wherever and with whomever I come in contact! (I realize these are not "measurable and obtainable" and therefore are not goals in the "official sense", however, in my abstract world and abstract mind they are as close as I am going to come)

So what say you? What are YOUR goals, dreams
and ambitions? Leave comments HERE and I will pick two souls at random and send an amazing FREE goodie box of AltAred Art materials! Woohoo!

DING! DING! DING! NEW INFO! Included in the AltAred Art Goodie Box will be:

An Art Journal
A Blank Wooden Box to AltAr any way you wish!
A Groovy Felt Magnet...bird, dog or mushroom
Lots of cool-ish papers, rub ons, ephemera, stickers, and "weird stuff"

I look forward to hearing from you! Pe
ace, Light and Joy in the New Year!


xoxoxo

Friday, December 28

Beautiful Places, Interesting Faces, and Altered Art!

Hi Friends! Yesterday my hubby and I spent the day in the beautiful Smokey Mountains...it was sunny and 50 degrees...absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I got some FAB photos...AND a video. BEHOLD, listen...a mountain stream:
video
The water was unbelievably cold...brrrrr!

The air temperature was much cooler in higher elevations...we saw ice formed on the rocks:





And the views? Breathtaking!


We also discovered an old, abandoned Grist Mill in our travels:










It was really cool to see how things were assembled way back when...it made me realize a few things 1) we are incredibly spoiled in today's modern age and 2) it's a good thing I was born NOW and not THEN. I fear I'm too big a wimp to handle the day to day hardships of a pioneer! We also stumbled upon a village about 1.5 miles from Cherokee, North Carolina:







While the setting of this little village was idyllic...structures entitled, "Corn Crib", "Meat House" and "Stock Barn" leave me again with the reality that being a woman in the 1800s was NO PICNIC! And the nearest "mall"? A Trading Post in Cherokee, North Carolina where Native Americans and the locals bartered and haggled over food staples and other necessities.(As an aside: I couldn't have even survived the SHOPPING! The whole "haggling thing" puts me in an untold state of anxiety...I would probably STARVE TO DEATH in Mexico, the Caribbean...places where haggling is THE form of trade rather than a "bottom line sticker price.")

AND while we're discussing the historical (and hysterical) I was born on this day 50 years ago! I am 5 decades old...young! One half of a century. I can hardly fathom it...I don't FEEL 50. What does 50 FEEL like anyway? Will I be a "good" 50 year old? How will I know? Who decides these things? Why so many questions? At age 50 I THOUGHT I'd have more answers...but instead, STILL these infernal questions!

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, I have found a few new Altered Art resources..WAY COOL!

Altered Chicks Perhaps THE most clever use of the term "chick" EVER!

Altered Art Creative Minds - An Altered Artist's amazing work...at VERY reasonable prices!

More soon! SMOOCHIES! xoxoxo

Wednesday, December 26

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Greetings Friends! So have all of you survived the holiday hooplah?

I have received (thus far) some FABulous gifts for Christmas...one of which is an acrylic album...behold this AMAZING family album made by Sharon Manning:





AND (prepare to eat your hearts out) the much-coveted Tim Holz Grungeboard:





PLUS I got TONS of rub-ons, embellishments, etc. etc. (and I found out (via a little bird)) that I will be getting one of these:


CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?! I feel SOOoooo spoiled...I'll be spending the rest of my holiday vacation completing my acrylic album...pictures to come!

Tuesday, December 25

A Tender Tennessee Christmas

Greetings friends! Merry Christmas! I send this video to you from eastern Tennessee...

Saturday, December 22

7 DAYS: 7 FUN PROJECTS! DAYS 6&7

Greetings intrepid merry makers! How goes the Christmas shopping and running amuck? I took a car load of friends to see what has become a holiday tradiition in my family: Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Way of Lights. I'll post pictures in the next post or two.... Meanwhile, BECAUSE I was out with said car load of friends, I didn't get to post the Day 6 project...which means TODAY, you get a 2 for 1 deal-o-roonie! WOOHOO! First, as time is ticking away, we are now talking LAST MINUTE gifts, yes? So here's a quick and easy one I think is FAB: Handmade chocolate bar wrappers. The Scrapgirls have a WONderful template you can use...or here are some cute ideas:





I LOVE the idea of putting a photo on the wrapper! For those of you who would rather create your own version...these are great for digital layouts! My SECOND last minute idea is the "MOVIE BASKET". I would LOVE to get one of these!



EVERYTHING (except t
he bowl) can be purchased at your local video store. Find a great family movie, add popcorn, movie size boxes of candy and soda, and POOF! A fab hostess gift or gift for a family!

Now, lest I forget, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you ALL a VERY "MARY" Christmas...(I can just hear my proofreaders, "You spelled Merry wrong! You spelled Merry wrong!" Nay, dear proofers, I did not...explanation forthcoming)
As the Bible says of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, "She pondered these things in her heart..." I would hope that EACH OF US would TAKE TIME to ponder in our hearts the GOOD THINGS granted us in the past year...and offer a prayer of gratitude to the "Birthday Boy" who makes it all possible. We are immensely grateful for ALL that has been given and shared with us in 2007...and as I look upon my 5th decade on planet earth (oh good grief!) I am more and more thankful for each new day...each new gift...each new opportunity. I am thankful for YOU, dear reader, and for this "most awesome" (In the words of Bill and Ted) mode of communication that helps me to stay in touch with friends around the world.

Meanwhile, from the Clouse House to YOUR HOUSE, we pray you have a very MARY Christmas...


Thursday, December 20

7 DAYS: 7 FUN PROJECTS! DAY 5

Here is a fun and wildly creative project for you to do either for Christmas gifts, or save it for a winter afternoon craft event with the neighborhood kids... Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you (fanfare please)




If you'll recall, last winter I stayed with my nieces while my sister and brother in law went on an overseas trip...it just so happened the stay ocurred during the "worst ice storm in 75 years". We were without power, without heat, and largely without entertainment. Springfield, MO was declared a national disaster area, and the national guard was called in to prevent looting and other lawlessness that happens when folks are desperate.

Lucky for me, these nieces are two of the most creative souls I know...and so we (when the power was finally restored) watched musicals non-stop and made altAred books, scrapbook pages, and...yes, you guessed it, sock monsters.

I had found the above book at a bookstore and picked it up on a whim. I am not a sew-er per se...but I couldn't resist those button eyes and darling little
faces.

As an aside, bear in mind one of the chores I was to do was to make sure the girls got all their laundry caught up and put away. There happened to be a BASKET FULL o
f socks not yet pulled together with their "mates"...uh oh. Creative fodder. The girls and I made a mad dash to the basket and began the process of monster making...

Most projects require very little sewing, and can be completed in a few minutes. Instructions for each little monster are included in the book...

Behold...monsters on parade...






Excellent instructions can also be found online at: "Sockmonsters"

More soon!
SMOOCHIES!

Wednesday, December 19

7 DAYS: 7 FUN PROJECTS! DAY 4

WOW! It didn't take some of you very long to respond to my "project plea!" Today we have a FABulous AltAred Art project by the U.S. winner of the Craft Stash, Angeleeenee. Those of you who do much of your scrapbooking and/or altAred art on the computer (or those of you who are bloggers, emailers, etc) realize how much time you can spend sitting at a desk staring at that little corner of your world. Well nothing is LESS inspirational than a bare, (in angeleenee's words ,) "Cheap, particle board desk." And so...one day, on a whim, she began cutting out and laying down images...and then mod podging them to her desk! Look at the beautiful transformation!




There is nothing so motivating than being faced day by day with a storage debacle...Ang's bathroom (like so many) is (again in her words) "Too small to change your mind in" and lacks storage space. So in another moment of inspiration, she cut the ends out of several large coffee cans, stacked and glued them together, and then covered them with a beautiful, french blue wallpaper and stenciled the word "Toilette" on the side. Voila! Storage problem solved...in Angeleenee's words: "Holds two rolls nicely and looks pretty too!!! LOVE THAT!!!!" By all means DO spend some time over the holidays looking at the places in your home where you spend the most time. Where could you make some "AltArations" and create niches of inspiration? In one of my first blog posts, I showed you my craft room...in an encore performance, here are a couple of photos...most of the art you see on the walls was taken from a fave book of mine, "Bird, Feather, Egg". The illustrations are gorgeous and I love having my "creative area" surrounded by birds, nests, etc. It's a fun way to bring the outdoors IN.



And then pictures of family, friends, and inspirational folks (some of YOUR pictures will end up on my walls...no doubt!) fill up the rest of the space. I used inexpensive, colorful frames (where I used them at all) or made frames from material or other found objects.



The walls may be too "busy" for the tastes of some, but I create better and function better if I am IMMERSED in inspiration...therefore, there is only a LITTLE empty wallspace left! (and my goal is to fill it as soon as possible...much to my husband's chagrin!)

And there you have it: two more quick and easy "projects" you can do a little at a time, and at your leisure (I'm sure you, like I am wondering, "Leisure? What's THAT??!?!?!")

And for those of you who have read THIS far (thanks for your diligence!) here is a BONUS quick and easy Christmas recipe (from Kraft) for you and the kids to do together:



Prep Time:
15 min

15 min
Makes:
10 servings, 1/2 cup each
1 qt. (4 cups) cold milk
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
20 OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, crushed, divided
10 paper or plastic cups (6 to 7 oz.)
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
Assorted decorating gels

POUR milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. Let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir in 1 cup of the crushed cookies.

SPOON remaining crushed cookies into bottoms of paper cups, adding about 2 tsp. crumbs to each cup; cover with pudding mixture.

DROP spoonfuls of the whipped topping onto desserts to resemble snowmen. Decorate with gels for the "eyes," "noses" and "scarves." Refrigerate until ready to serve. Store leftover desserts in refrigerator.

More tomorrow! Happy creating!

Tuesday, December 18

7 DAYS: 7 FUN PROJECTS! DAY 3

Happy Tuesday, everyone!
If you would PLEASE indulge this first-time gramma a bit of "Brag Time"...I MUST share with you the most darling Christmas picture so far...and then I'll tell you how YOU can make one just like it!

Note the darling little Elf-like fellow in the corner...HOW CUTE IS HE??? Anyhoo, for those of you who are digitally saavy...here's a list of "ingredients" for making said layout...and then I'll include a "how to" for those who are of the "non-digital" persuasion...

Created in Photoshop Elements 5
A Joyful Season Digital Christmas Kit by Erica Hite at Scrapgirls (Link in sidebar)
Blank Fireplace: by Margot Miller at Un-BLOG-evable
FIrelogs and Hardwood Floor: pictures found on internet
Bohemian Bird Stamps: by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals
For the Not-So-Digitally-Saavy:

Buy some festive scrapbook paper...embossed will make a great tree! Use either a die cut machine, ready made embellishments, or free hand a tree, packages and ornaments.
Scour magazines for pictures of fireplaces and hardwood floors (ads are everywhere!)
Look on the internet for some pictures of little birds and print them out (winter birds like Cardinals or Chickadees would be cute)
Find an ADORABLE picture of a child in a santa suit and copy it (a pose of a child sitting is easy to incorporate, but a child standing would work as well)

(It's important to try and keep things in scale...otherwise the picture will not look life-like...OR make a whimsical picture that is intentionally OUT of scale, like the ornament in my picture or the heads in Claudia Hellmuth's Poppets)



Cut out pictures so they are individual elements in the design. Begin assembling pictures, working from the back (think in layers) forward. For example, the first layer I would work on would be the fireplace, then the logs and fire, then the floor. Next, begin adding elements, gluing some flat onto the background, and some raised from the page by using adhesive foam dots or squares. Keep adding individual elements until you are pleased with the results. (very often, leaving everything else flat and then raising the baby or main focal point off the page looks fab...VERY eyecatching!)

Have fun and be sure to email me what you come up with...I'll gladly post them here!



Monday, December 17

7 DAYS: 7 FUN PROJECTS! DAY 2

Greetings Craft Mongers! (I mean that in a GOOD way!)

Day 2 and I have another fun project for you...remember I told you about the HO HO HO game? Here's my version for older kids...the YO HO HO game. Same idea, just using pirates to enhance the cool factor...

Here's the cover...



And the inside instructions:



And here are some of the cards (Digital kit purchased from Daisie Company's Tammy Young)



Sorry about the crummy pictures...my camera battery is acting weird...can you see how completely ADORABLE they are tho? I will tell you I did NOT have an easy time finding CUTE pirates. It was all skulls, and kind of creepy stuff. However, there were TWO suitable (imho) for a 5 year old: these and the cute little rats from Patti Knox over at Designer Digitals. I, however have something of a rat phobia...so there'll be no rats for THIS chick...sorry Patti!

The bulk of the time is spent laying them out so they'll all cut the same size...I use Photoshop Elements to do the designwork and layouts.

For a younger nephew I'm making a Pirate Match Game...that way he can play by himself or with his mom. Used the same little characters...just made sure there were even numbers of each.

Hope you like it...what FUN we're having!

(BTW, today I mailed winner's packages to Ngaire and Angie, and the "special gift" to all those who entered during the last giveaway! Coming soon to a mailbox near you!) DROOL!

Peace in da hood...

Sunday, December 16

7 DAYS: 7 FUN PROJECTS!

Greetings, dear readers! It ocurred to me (much to my horror and thrill) that there are only 7 (count them) SEVEN days til Christmas Eve!
WOW! WHOA! And HOW did this happen?

SOoooooooo, as if you don't have enough to do already, and since 7 is my favorite/lucky number, I am going to make 7 quick and simple projects for you to steal and use this Christmas. Some are original, some are not...but ALL
are a) quick b)easy c)relatively inexpensive. Sound good? Let's begin!

I have been having an absolute relentless craving for peppermint mocha...ANYTHING! And so, assuming there may be more of you out there (and you KNOW who you are!) Here is a quick and simple gift idea for kids, a hostess, or yourself on cold, wintery days!


"SNOWMAN SOUP"
I pkg instant cocoa mix 15-25 miniature marshmallows
3 hershey's kisses
candy cane Put all ingredients into a ziploc sandwich bag. Make the following tag:




"I was told you've been real good this year

Always glad to hear it

With freezing weather drawing near

You'll need to warm the spirit
So here's a little snowman soup
Complete with stirring stick
Add hot water, sip it slow,
It's sure to do the trick!"

For an inexpensive gift for a whole family, add mugs, a basket, and festive wrappings!



And finally, lest at this late hour you are not "feeling it" yet...another blast from the past! Aren't the costumes AMAZING?!?! AND LOOK at those waistlines!
MORE soon (can you STAND it?) And oh, for those of you who (like me) cannot get enough of the mad merriment, check out one of my fave blogs from scrapbooker, artist, extraordinnaire, Ngaire Bartlam: Blog Me Baby!

Saturday, December 15

WINTER WONDERLAND

Today was the first snowfall of winter! It was beautiful...

These are the decorations in my front yard...I found this FABulous old table at an antique store...it was sitting outside so it was already weathered nicely...

and then I filled a plastic tub with greenery, white lights, metal gifts and a birdhouse



And my trusty 3.5 foot snowman helped with the lights...he began as very brown and tea stained...the snow seems to have bleached him out a bit! The gifts are wrapped in plastic and weighted with bricks...


For those of you without a white Christmas, vicariously walk with me through this Winter Wonderland! Let's catch snowflakes on our tongues!

More soon! Hot chocolate kisses! xxxxx

AND NOW, A BLAST FROM THE PAST

I realize this is my second post in a day...but please bear with me as I tell you of my most recent debacle...

I find it amazing the way certain smells, pictures, or situations remind us of obscure things from our childhood...while studying this during biopsych I learned that the emotions we experience during these memories are IDENTICALLY the emotions we experienced when it happened the first time...

For those of you who know me, you may find it hard to believe that I (as a wee child) was quite the singer. It's TRUE...I belonged to choir every year of elementary and high school, and while in high school went to state with a girls sextet (matching outfits, the whole bit...ARGH!) and won first place!

Annnnnnnnnnnnnyway (there IS a point to all of this...truly!) Well, among my scrapbooking friends and bloggers, there seems to be a multitude of folks doing a "Christmas Countdown"...the 12 days of Christmas or Christmas advent or...whatever. Well, what all of the hub bub over the 12 days has reminded me of is a song sung in choir during 5th grade. I remember my class sang it with rave reviews, standing ovations and wild cheering from the audience (okay, so most of the audience were the parents of said singers...but STILL) I remembered eveyr word...and even the tune...I'd sing it for you if that were at all plausible!

SOooo, without further adieu, I give you "the song" and the "trip" down memory lane:

More soon! SMOOCHIES!

Friday, December 14

GIVEAWAY WINNER(S) ANNOUNCED!

Good morning readers! Well, as Dr. Seuss says, "The time has come, the time is now...Ngaire Bartlam will you please....

COME ON DOWN! You're the winner of the International Box of Christmas Goodies! Woohoo! A hand for the amazing Ngaire from down under...(hoots, yells, and cheers) Please send me (via private email) your address so I can get your goodie box winging its way to you!

After assigning each entry a number and putting the numbers into a random number generator...the winner from the good ol' USofA: Angeleenee (who also did NOT follow instructions and must now send me her address so that I can mail said goodie box!)

CONGRATS to the winners! And now, because it's Christmas and because I'm feeling VERY MUCH in the Christmas spirit, I am going to give each person who entered a gift just for taking time during the holiday madness to check out and read my little blog.

I DO SO APPRECIATE each of you!

PEPPERMINT MOCHA SMOOCHIES TO ALL!

Thursday, December 13

WIN A FREE SCRAP STASH

Merry Thursday everyone!

Those of you who are everyday readers of my blog (THANK YOU and you KNOW who you are!) will recall after my last giveaway I promised another FREE GIVEAWAY just in time for Christmas...

Leave a comment here (with your name and city, and/or country) to enter! I will be giving away a Christmas goodie box which includes some of the handmade items previously mentioned on my blog, as well as some cute scrapbook goodies (including Daisy Ds, Heidi Swapp, Love, Elsie, Bampop, vintage book pages, hardware, stickers and more!) AND another FAB AltAred Art journal!

I'll post a few pictures later...but believe me, this is a cute, delightful potpourri of fun scrapbook and altAred art goodies! AND (as a thank you to ALL of my readers) I will be giving away BOTH a national AND an international prize! WOOHOO! What better way to say Merry Christmas...in ANY language?!?! (Please leave your comments in English..I am sorry to say the only other language I speak is my Love Language: GIFTS!)

I will choose one winner from the U.S. and one from an "out of the country" entry! I will mail both goodie boxes prior to Christmas, however, given the "late hour" and the US Postal Service typical holiday traffic, said boxes may not reach their destinations until after the Christmas holiday...just in time for some post-holiday stress-relieving creativity!

You have 24 hours...GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, December 11

Vintage Children's Book Ornaments

Good morning, dear readers! Happy 11th of December to you! A few posts ago (November 27th to be exact) I showed you some vintage ornaments I thought were ADORABLE...to refresh your memory:



Ahhhhhhhhhh...you remember now, yes? Anyhoo, I told you I was going to forage for Children's books and make some of my own...I went to the local Goodwill, and found 6 or 7 Christmas books for kids. The following is my take on the ornaments above (after quizzing the creator of the birdies above, I discovered that the pictures were decoupaged onto balsa wood shapes found at a local craft store...and so...the hunt ensued) However (again) being from Podunk, Illinois, there were no such darling shapes...so I was left to my own devices and imagination. Behold the results:



Most ornaments shown here were taken from pages in either the Nutcracker, Frosty the Snowman, or Snow Day...





And then I decided to use other shapes as well (THESE were the shapes the stores had on hand:



What you cannot see very well in these pictures is the German glass glitter used on each ornament.It adds to the vintage look and really makes them shine and sparkle...they look like glistening sugar cookies! (My husband even said, "WOW! Those are pretty!" Believe me, for him to notice, they MUST be dazzling!) This photo shows it a little better:




THEN I found an unfinished wooden box, and lined it with holly tissue paper. I layered a few of the ornaments inside, and then glued this fine fellow...on top.



The project turned out so cute I will have a hard time giving it away!

More to come...I'm on a roll! (A tasty, home made CINNAMON ROLL that is! ha!)